I love exploring and try new things. Here: failing my Maid Cafe audition in Akihabara, Tokyo. (Photo: David West)
Never before have I appeared on the cover of The New York Times, and never before have I seen such an incredible response to a single announcement involving me. From the serious (WSJ, New York Observer, Reuters, Guardian UK, etc.) to the hilarious (Gawker’s piece), it’s been a whirlwind.
In this post, I’ll shed some light on my next project, which is a first on many levels.
To start with the obvious, I couldn’t be more excited: Amazon Publishing has acquired my next book, The 4-Hour Chef, to launch its New York-based imprint.
My notes are preceded by “TIM.”
Looking forward — and I have every intention of making this the biggest thing I’ve ever done — if you would like to contribute to The 4-Hour Chef (experiments, guest sidebars, recipes, etc.), please let me know here…
Amazon Publishing Acquires #1 and Four Years Running New York Times Best-Selling 4-Hour Guru Timothy Ferriss'”The 4-Hour Chef,” to Launch New York Imprint
SEATTLE, Aug 16, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — (NASDAQ:AMZN)
Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that Amazon Publishing’s first major acquisition by its New York imprint is the next book in Timothy Ferriss’ #1 New York Times best-selling “4-hour” series, “The 4-Hour Chef.” Ferriss is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers “The 4-Hour Body” and “The 4-Hour Workweek,” the latter of which has been sold into 35 languages and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than four years. “The 4-Hour Chef,” which is expected to be released in April 2012, will be published in print, enhanced digital and audio formats by the New York-based imprint of Amazon Publishing headed by Larry Kirshbaum. Ferriss’ literary agent, Stephen Hanselman of LevelFiveMedia, represented the author in this world rights deal.
The new full-length book builds upon Ferriss’ “4-hour” philosophy by transforming the way we cook and eat. Featuring recipes and cooking guidelines from world-renowned chefs and interspersed with the revolutionary advice Ferriss’ fans have come to expect, “The 4-Hour Chef” is a practical but unusual guide to mastering food and cooking, whether you are a seasoned pro or a blank-slate novice. The book also showcases the very best recipes based on Ferriss’ The Slow-Carb Diet, which thousands of his readers have tested for fat loss and performance enhancement.
“My decision to collaborate with Amazon Publishing wasn’t just a question of which publisher to work with,” said Tim Ferriss. “It was a question of what future of publishing I want to embrace. My readers are migrating irreversibly into digital, and it made perfect sense to work with Amazon to try and redefine what is possible. This is a chance to really show what the future of books looks like, and to deliver a beautiful experience to my readers, who always come first. I could not be more excited about what we’re doing.”
“Like every book Tim has published to date, ‘The 4-Hour Chef’is a watershed work, and an ideal way to launch our new publishing imprint in New York,” said Larry Kirshbaum, VP and Publisher, Amazon Publishing, New York.
Ferriss, nominated as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People of 2007” and Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know in 2011,” is author of the #1 New York Times best sellers “The 4-Hour Body” and “The 4-Hour Workweek,” the latter of which has been sold into 35 languages and has been on the New York Times best seller list for more than four years. He is an angel investor (StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Twitter, et al.), guest lecturer at Princeton University, and faculty member at Singularity University, based at NASA Ames Research Center. Newsweek calls Tim “the world’s best guinea pig,” which he takes as a compliment.
Amazon Publishing is the publishing arm of Amazon and encompasses the imprints AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, The Domino Project Powered by Amazon, Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer and the New York-based imprint. For more information about all imprints of Amazon Publishing, visit www.amazon.com/amazonpublishing. Amazon Publishing is a brand used by Amazon Content Services, LLC.
(The full press release can be found here)
The New York Times Coverage
Amazon Set to Publish Pop Author
SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon moved aggressively Tuesday to fulfill its new ambition to publish books as well as sell them, announcing that it had signed Timothy Ferriss, the wildly popular self-help guru for young men.
TIM: You can’t win all the PR positioning battles, but I certainly view myself (and my writing) as female-friendly and age-independent. Facebook Fan Page and blog analytics show a 60/40 male-female split, and the latter percentage is growing faster than in any year prior.
The terms were not disclosed. But Mr. Ferriss said in an interview, “I don’t feel like I’m giving up anything, financially or otherwise,” by signing with Amazon.
TIM: I feel this way for many reasons, one of which is the statement that an Amazon rep made to Publishers Lunch: “Our intention is to make this book available to any retailer who would like to sell it in any format.”
Amazon has been publishing books for several years, but its efforts went up several notches in visibility when it brought in the longtime New York editor and agent Laurence Kirshbaum three months ago as head of Amazon Publishing. “I hope we can do some exciting, innovative things,” Mr. Kirshbaum said on Tuesday. “But I don’t want to overpromise.”
Or get his friends in the business worried. “Our success will only help the rest of publishing,” he said.
Traditional publishers do not necessarily believe that. Some are downright nervous about the intentions of Amazon, with its deep pockets and a unparalleled distribution system into tens of millions of living rooms and onto electronic devices.
Some independent bookstores have already said they do not intend to carry any books from the retailer, not wanting to give a dollar to a company they feel is putting them out of business.
TIM: I truly believe that Amazon can change all of publishing for the better, and it’s important not to make “technological change” synonymous with “Amazon.” Much as the Harry Potter series helped spread literacy around the world — all while not “stealing” market share from other fiction — I think the innovation of Amazon can drive more total book sales across all formats, and it need not be zero-sum.
It’s important to realize — as I see it — that Amazon needs and wants great books from other publishers more than it needs its own publishing arm. Is Amazon going to publish 300,000+ books a year on its own, signing each of those authors? Of course not.
Second, just because more ebooks are sold than print books in a given time frame, that doesn’t mean that print is going away, or even that print *has* to decline. Looking at my own experience and that of my friends, Kindle users buy more books after their Kindle purchase than before. I’m happy to have 20 unread books on my Kindle, but I won’t buy 20 physical books to stack on my counter. These 20 unread books do NOT displace print purchases I would have otherwise made; they’re ADDITIONAL books I never would have bought on paper.
Third, in the long, long run, physical books will have to become art — physically beautiful and superior to an e-book in some aspect of the user experience — to sell. Prime examples include books from Phaidon, Chronicle Books, and Melcher Media. Make no mistake: “real” books will continue to sell for a long time, but, as with any free market, the biggest winnings will go to those publishers and bookseller who adapt best.
The takeaway: there are different ways to adapt besides embracing digital, and there is room for multiple winners.
Mr. Ferriss’s first book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” has been on The New York Times Advice best-seller list for 84 weeks, and his second, “The 4-Hour Body,” for 33 weeks. Both are published by Crown, a division of Random House.
Amazon will publish his next work, “The 4-Hour Chef,” in the spring — as a hardcover, an e-book and an audio book.
The 34-year-old Ferriss is a natural choice to be the first Amazon Publishing writer. He is adept at new media (270,000 Twitter followers), expert at publicizing himself (the readers of Wired magazine gave him the self-promoter of the year award in 2008), and a start-up investor who sees nothing but shiny promise in technology.
“Amazon has a one-to-one relationship with every one of their customers,” the writer said. “You can just imagine the possibilities that opens up.”
Mr. Ferriss said he had approached Amazon about a book deal. Crown did not get a chance to match the offer because in the writer’s view, it never could have.
“The opportunity to partner with a technology company that is embracing publishing is very different than partnering with a publisher embracing technology,” he said.
TIM: My quote above is on point and 100% accurate, but the preceding sentence — “Crown did not get a chance to match the offer because in the writer’s view, it never could have.” — could lead people to the wrong conclusions about my decision.
Crown is, in my opinion, THE team to bet on among the “Big Six” publishers (see the list in my earlier post, “How Authors Really Make Money”). If it were a question of which “publisher” to go with, I would choose Crown again in a heartbeat, 10 times out of 10. The proof is in the pudding: they’ve done an unparalleled job with both The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body, and their bestseller track record extends from there. I had a wonderful experience with them.
Choosing to work with Amazon (I kept Crown informed of this before the news came out) was a complete category leap. It was, in my mind, like moving from The New York Yankees to The LA Lakers: from best-of-class in one sport to best-of-class in an entirely different sport. No one in publishing has the assets, resources, and capabilities that Amazon has; it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance at an industry first. I fully intend on maintaining a great working relationship with the entire Crown team, who are some of the most capable people I’ve ever met in any business. They know that my lifeblood is experimentation, and they have been incredibly understanding about what was a very emotional decision for me.
Mr. Ferriss has risen to mass popularity by explaining to readers how to get the most change in their lives for the least amount of effort. His books promise to help readers lose pounds through “safe chemical cocktails” and odd food combinations, gain muscle in a month with only four hours of gym time, produce 15-minute female orgasms, and sleep two hours a day and feel fully rested.
At a moment of great restlessness in publishing, Amazon is offering its own appealing shortcuts to fame and fortune. E-book sales are rising significantly, prompting struggles over royalty rates. Publishers are reluctant to raise them but writers have a useful wedge in Amazon, where they can self-publish and, at least in theory, make more.
(The full NYT piece can be found here)
Back to Tim
Just in case you missed it, I’d love to hear from you.
I have every intention of making The 4-Hour Chef the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and the launch will be unlike anything the world has ever seen.
If you would like to contribute to The 4-Hour Chef (experiments, guest sidebars, recipes, gear, etc.), please let me know here.
Pura vida, all 🙂